International Energy Agency

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The International Energy Agency (IEA) describes its role as being an energy policy adviser to its 27 member countries on "in their effort to ensure reliable, affordable and clean energy for their citizens." On its website it states that its current work "focuses on climate change policies, market reform, energy technology collaboration and outreach to the rest of the world, especially major consumers and producers of energy like China, India, Russia and the OPEC countries."[1]

Taking a lead from coal's biggest miners and burners

The IEA states that it has established the Coal Industry Advisory Board (CIAB) -- "a group of high level executives from coal-related industrial enterprises" -- to "provide advice to the IEA on a wide range of issues relating to coal." The IEA states that the board normally comprise 45 members who "are drawn from 20 countries accounting for over 85% of world coal production. Members also represent major electricity producers, together with other coal consuming industries and coal related organisations." The Chairman of CAIB is J. Brett Harvey, the President and Chief Executive Officer, CONSOL Energy Inc, is the CIAB Chairman.[2]

The IEA states that the board "is supporting the IEA in delivering its responses on climate change, clean energy and sustainable development, as well as advising on issues for coal relevant to world energy security."[2]

The IEA is one of the leading global boosters for Carbon Capture and Storage.

Even so, the IEA has become progressively more alarmed as greenhouse gas emissions have spiralled ever upwards. In its World Energy Outlook 2012, the IEA warned that:[3]

"Successive editions of this report have shown that the climate goal of limiting warming

to 2 °C is becoming more difficult and more costly with each year that passes. Our 450 Scenario examines the actions necessary to achieve this goal and finds that almost four-fifths of the CO2 emissions allowable by 2035 are already locked-in by existing power plants, factories, buildings, etc. If action to reduce CO2 emissions is not taken before 2017, all the allowable CO2 emissions would be locked-in by energy infrastructure existing at that time. Rapid deployment of energy-efficient technologies – as in our Efficient World Scenario – would postpone this complete lock-in to 2022, buying time to secure a much needed global agreement to cut greenhouse-gas emissions."

"No more than one-third of proven reserves of fossil fuels can be consumed prior to

2050 if the world is to achieve the 2°C goal, unless carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology is widely deployed. This finding is based on our assessment of global “carbon reserves”, measured as the potential CO2 emissions from proven fossil-fuel reserves. Almost two-thirds of these carbon reserves are related to coal, 22% to oil and 15% to gas. Geographically, two-thirds are held by North America, the Middle East, China and Russia. These findings underline the importance of CCS as a key option to mitigate CO2 emissions, but its pace of deployment remains highly uncertain, with only a handful of commercial scale projects currently in operation."

Allegations of pro-oil and nuclear power bias

The IEA has systematically underestimated the potential of renewable energy sources like wind and solar, "because of its ties to the oil, gas and nuclear sectors," Energy Watch, a group of scientists and politicians, charged in a January 2009 report (pdf). Swiss parliamentarian and Energy Watch member Rudolf Rechsteiner said that IEA was "delaying the change to a renewable world. They continue touting nuclear and carbon-capture-and-storage, classical central solutions, instead of a more neutral approach, which would favour new solutions." [4]

The Energy Watch report documented that IEA has dramatically underestimated wind power capacity over the past decade. IEA's 2008 World Energy Outlook "predicts a fivefold increase in wind energy from 2006-2015, but then assumes a rapid slowdown" without explaining why "the wind sector should suffer such a crisis by 2015 and after." IEA, which refused to comment on the report, draws "senior staff from the fossil-fuel industry." [4]


The IEAGHG Programme was established under the terms of an Implementing Agreement from the International Energy Agency (IEA).[5]

Renewable energy

In 2012, the IEA announced it would start making annual market forecast reports on renewable energy.

Contact details

9, rue de la Fédération
75739 Paris Cedex 15,
Phone:(33 1) 4057 6500/01
Fax: (33 1) 4057 6559

Articles and resources


  1. International Energy Agency, "About the IEA", International Energy Agency website, accessed May 2008.
  2. 2.0 2.1 International Energy Agency, "Coal Industry Advisory Board", International Energy Agency website, accessed June 2012.
  3. International Energy Agency, World Energy Outlook 2012: Executive Summary, International Energy Agency, November 2012, page 3.
  4. 4.0 4.1 David Adam, "International Energy Agency 'blocking global switch to renewables': International Energy Agency accused of consistently underestimating potential of wind, solar and sea power while promoting oil, coal and nuclear as 'irreplaceable' technologies," The Guardian (UK), January 9, 2009.
  5. "[1]"

Related SourceWatch articles


IEA reports on Carbon Capture and Storage

External resources

IEA websites on specific topics:

External articles

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